To understand what causes muscle fatigue, it is worth looking at what exactly muscle fatigue is. If you exercise regularly, you may become familiar with the sensation of dull muscle pain or experience a feeling of tiredness or lack of energy that makes it difficult for you to perform your usual daily tasks. But not only can exercise cause muscle fatigue, various health conditions also indicate muscle fatigue as a common symptom.
A study in the Journal of Physiology defines muscle fatigue as a transient or temporary decrease in the ability to perform physical actions. More specifically, “muscle fatigue” describes any reduction in strength or power that muscles can produce, which develops shortly after the start of physical activity.
You’ve probably experienced it in your life, whether it’s a reduction in your running speed, your strength in lifting weights, or simply because it’s harder for you to maintain the same level of performance. Not only can it be frustrating to struggle to maintain a certain level of performance, but fatigue-induced performance declines can lead to worse training adjustments, according to a study by the International Journal of Physiology and Sports Performance.
In order to get the most out of your workout, let’s look at how to best prevent muscle fatigue. There are a handful of options (some of which are simpler than others), from training at sub-maximum intensities to just drinking more water. In this case, you may want to consult our guide to best water bottles.
What is muscle fatigue?
As we have already mentioned, muscle fatigue is a decrease in the strength or power that can be produced by the muscles involved in a given task. In real terms, this is manifested as being able to lift less weight or do fewer reps, not run / cycle as fast or for so long, or the performance itself feels harder.
For muscle fatigue, we are only considering reductions in the performance of the same muscles, mainly within the same workout, or workouts very close to each other; For example, being able to do fewer repetitions on the bench press as you do more sets, or find it harder to maintain a certain pace during a 5 mile run or for the following days.
Fatigue induced over a longer period of time or with different muscle groups is more likely to be a sensation of systemic fatigue directed at the central nervous system, as illustrated in the research on caffeine in the American Journal of Physiology.
Causes of muscle fatigue
Before we begin to discuss what causes muscle fatigue, we must first understand what allows muscles to contract and work. At the most basic level, the muscle contracts through individual fibers (called actin and myosin) that slide over each other and form bridges. A chemical called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is essential to make this happen, and it can be considered a muscle currency: the more you have, the more your muscles can work, as stated in Advances in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. Phosphocreatine (abbreviated PCr) is a high-energy chemical that acts as a phosphate reserve to create more ATP, as shown in Muscular physiology.
One of the reasons why ATP is so important is that it allows the release of calcium from muscle cells to allow contractions to occur, and an important byproduct of ATP creation is the accumulation of ATP. hydrogen ions, as shown in Talent. Hydrogen ions induce fatigue by creating a more acidic environment in the muscle.
According to the results of research published in Sports medicine i Pharmacology and Clinical and Experimental Physiology, muscle work can lead to decreased ATP and PCr and an accumulation of hydrogen ions and magnesium ions, which inhibit calcium release. These effects can impede cross-bridge and calcium release, and the result is a decrease in muscle strength production.
An important factor that causes muscles to get tired is the increase in heat that the body experiences during exercise. Exercise-induced heat can cause physiological stress as discussed above, according to a 2015 review in Scandinavian journal of medicine and science in sportand it can also cause dehydration through sweat as the body tries to maintain a constant, safe temperature.
Dehydration is one of the main contributing factors to fatigue according to a 2011 article in the Journal of Sports Scienceand sweating can cause significant loss of essential minerals such as sodium, magnesium, and calcium, which can lead to increased muscle fatigue.
How to prevent muscle fatigue
Now that we know what causes muscle fatigue at the cellular level and more generally, there are some well-established practical steps we can take to help reduce muscle fatigue. First, eating some carbohydrates in a few hours of exercise can significantly improve exercise performance, in large part because carbohydrates play a vital role in glycolysis, a major route for the production of carbohydrates. ATP.
Second, there are a number of tactics you can use after training to reduce the fatigue you experience during a training session. A study from 2018 a Frontiers in physiology found that immersion in water at any temperature below body temperature was very effective in reducing fatigue and muscle pain after training.
Finally, a 2019 research piece on Journal of strength and conditioning research found that cooling strategies were one of the most effective ways to maintain performance during a workout, that is, preventing too high a core temperature helps prevent fatigue. A very effective way to help maintain a relatively low temperature is by drinking cold water, a question investigated in a 2015 meta-analysis in the Scandinavian journal of medicine and science in sportand 10 of the 14 studies compiled showed a reduction in body temperature by drinking cold water.
Take-away points at home and practical steps
A certain degree of muscle fatigue is inevitable when exercising, as we hope you can see now. However, there are some practical steps we can take to reduce the effect, now that we know what causes muscle fatigue. Eating carbs before training can help maintain muscle performance, and soaking in water below body temperature can also be helpful.
Most people already drink water when they exercise, but making sure it is cold will have a big effect on protection against muscle fatigue and allow you to get the most out of your workouts.